Virgil van Dijk

Henderson, Van Dijk speak after Liverpool wins Premier League

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Liverpool’s heroes couldn’t hide their joyful anticipation of a Premier League title after stepping to the precipice on Wednesday.

On Thursday, they didn’t have to pretend any longer; Liverpool has won the Premier League after Man City lost to Christian Pulisic and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

“I didn’t want to talk about it until this moment,” said Jordan Henderson. “It’s amazing to finally get over the line. I’m so happy for all the boys, the fans, the whole club, the city. I’m a little bit overwhelmed right now. It’s an amazing feeling.”

[ RELATED: Liverpool win title – everything to know ]

Henderson struggled to put a label on the day, hilariously answering “Pretty good” when asked how he felt to be a champion of Europe and England.

“Pretty good. To be honest I’m just lost for words at the minute. It hasn’t sunk in. You never think of this moment. You concentrate on each game. And then this moment comes, I can’t really describe it.

Virgil van Dijk is one of three Reds to play in all 31 PL matches this season, and he’s an even tougher nut to crack than Henderson when it comes to interviews.

Here’s what he said.

“What a season so far,” Van Dijk said on NBCSN after the Man City loss. “It’s been incredible to be a part of these players, to be a part of the journey I started when I joined the club. I’m so proud to call myself a Premier League champion.”

He admitted rare nerves, which is really something from the gigantic force at the heart of Liverpool’s glory.

“I don’t watch too many games but the game felt like it was taking ages. When the free kick went in from Kevin, an unbelievable goal again, I was getting more nervous. I’ve never been more nervous in the world.”

Ages, big Virg? Try 30 years. Drink it in, Liverpool. You’ve won the league (again).

When will Liverpool win the Premier League?

When will Liverpool win the Premier League?
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Liverpool crushed Crystal Palace on Wednesday to move one step closer to winning the Premier League trophy.

So when will that happen?

After Sunday’s draw with Everton was met by Man City’s controlling defeat of Burnley, it felt a bit away still.

No more, especially now that Pep Guardiola is ready to focus on the FA Cup instead of the league and Chelsea is desperate to firm up its top four footing.

Liverpool’s path to an inevitable Premier League title

The Reds now have to gain three points or have City drop two points.

That’s most certainly going to happen, but when? Here are the next four Premier League matches involving the two sides.

Keep in mind that Man City has an extra match just days before Liverpool visits the Etihad, with the Reds falling out of the FA Cup. Man City visits Newcastle on June 28.

It’s very difficult to see the title race running any further than July 5.

Thursday: Chelsea v. Man City, 3:15 p.m. ET
July 2: Man City v. Liverpool, 3:15 p.m. ET
July 5: Liverpool v. Aston Villa, 11:30 a.m. ET
July 5: Southampton v. Man City, 2 p.m. ET

Scenarios

  • Liverpool wins the title if Man City draws or loses against Chelsea on Thursday.
  • The Reds can win the title by beating or drawing City at the Etihad on July 2.
  • If City beats Chelsea and Liverpool, the Reds will have 86 points and City 69 but maxing out at 87.

Drafting the Premier League…. NFL Style

Premier League Draft
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With the NFL Draft coming our way on Thursday, who would be selected in a draft of Premier League players?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

We were able to dial up two of our writers, Joe Prince-Wright and Nick Mendola, to complete this intriguing exercise.

The ground rules were simple: Select XI players, a super sub, a manager, and a home ground.

The only limits on representation was that a drafter could only select one player per position group (goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, forwards) per club.

So it’s okay to have Mo Salah and Virgil van Dijk, but not Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.

Without further adieu, the entire text conversation between our general managers…

Nicholas Mendola: Alright, as editor of this fine page, you get the first pick. Remember: Eleven players, a manager, a ground, and a super sub. Surely we can’t screw this up with just two of us (Edit Note: They could).

Joe Prince-Wright: Okay, I will get things started with the honor of having the first overall pick… Move over Joe Burrow, I’m going with… Harry Kane.

NM:Whoa!

JPW: I picked Kane because like the postman, he always delivers. He’s just the type of guy any team in the world can build their attack around. I know there are flashier players out there as a first pick but Kane is the most complete striker. Who you going with for your first pick, Nick?

NM: Totally torn between the best playmaker in the league and an absolute monster at the back. NFL people would surely tell you defense wins championships, but so does spraying the ball all over the pitch and having a rocket of a shot to boot… I’m taking Kevin De Bruyne.

JPW: KDB, fair play. A proper QB. A players’ player. 

NM: Kevin De Brady (Go Bills, though).

JPW: Haha! With my second pick I’m going for “D-fence! D-fence!” Virgil van Dijk. It has to be. Big Virg makes everyone around him better and he will win the Ballon d’Or next year or the year after. You’re on the clock, Nick

NM: It was definitely one or the other for me between KDB and VVD! Great applause for the former Celtic and Saints man.

For my second pick, I’m going to give KDB a target and also keep up our run on three-initialed stars. He’s not having his very best year, but I believe he will flourish with something steadier in his midfield. From Gabon, Mr. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

JPW: Nicely done. Auba has been sensational since he arrived at Arsenal. I’m pretty jealous of that pick… 

Okay, here’s my third pick. I’m getting in here early with my manager selection. Because I both know we will be going for one of two managers. I’m going with Jurgen Klopp. I mean, dude, come on.

How can you not love Klopp? He is the dream manager for players. They love him. He loves them. Fans love him. My squad will play a high-tempo, attacking brand. Klopp is my pick and he is a legend at Anfield and beyond. Klopp is just a nice bloke. End of. 

Who are you taking with your third pick?

NM: I’m going to go full competitor here and wait to take my manager for at least a pick or two.
Pretty torn here between two players, but I feel a need to lay claim to my favorite midfielder. Another guy who isn’t having his very best year, but that’s due to injury. You took a player who could win a Ballon d’Or, I’m taking one who’s been robbed of one — sorry, Luka Modric — Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante.

JPW: Ah man, N’Golo Kante was my next pick. No. No. No. Great pick from you but I’m gutted. 

NM: (takes bow, looks wistfully at the gleaming chompers of Klopp in your dugout)

JPW: Here’s my fourth pick… I’m going with another fine center back to join Virgil van Dijk. It is, of course, Harry Maguire. I don’t think anybody would get past a center back partnership of Maguire and VVD.

Slabhead had a slow start at Man United but he’s kicked on massively in the second half of the season and now has the captains armband. Marauding Maguire is my favorite Maguire.

NM: Slabhead?!? Unreal banter.

JPW: Defense builds championships, Nick… Our ta

NM: And I have none yet. I’m changing that…. kind of.

I’ve gone three picks and have not selected anyone from the leaders. And this guy is *technically* a right back. For me, I have a feeling I’ll have him playing midfield, but I won’t burn the rules: Trent Alexander-Arnold.

JPW: TAA was an attacking player in the youth teams, you know. Definitely can’t tell by the way he plays at right back… Very good pick my man.

Okay, my fifth pick is an easy one. Can’t believe he’s stayed on the board this long. Welcome to my squad, Sadio Mane! He’s having a superb season and I think he’s right up there with De Bruyne in the player of the year conversation.

Defenders are petrified of Mane’s pace and direct runs. Injuries impacted him in recent months but he is perfect for Liverpool and for my squad.

NM: Alright I’ll restore level footing by taking my manager. and it’s Pep. it was always going to be Pep. Honorable mention to Nuno and his magnificent beard.

JPW: It was honestly a flip of a coin between him and Klopp. And yes, what a job Nuno is doing! 

That brings me nicely to my sixth pick… Adama Traore! What a season he’s having and with Traore and Mane running at goal and Kane sniffing around for loose balls, my attack is stacked!

NM: Interesting shout. I’m gonna go off the board a bit, too. Joining Kante in wrecking your attack is the only player who can come close to recreating the Frenchman’s act: Wilfred Ndidi.

JPW: My goodness, he was on my board. Ndidi has been sublime. Leicester missed him a lot when he was out injured. Okay, I’m coming in with my 7th pick… Ederson! It’s a toss-up between him and Alisson, and Rui Patricio is in the conversation too. I’m going for Ederson though. His distribution is sublime. 

NM: I’m taking the man who shines in front of your latest pick, because I’ll need a remarkable distributor behind Ndidi and Kante. Aymeric Laporte, get ready to ping.

JPW: Man City’s real MVP is Laporte, as we’ve seen this season. You’re very good as this drafting lark, Nick. 

NM: It’s getting to the tricky parts now, I fear.
JPW: Okay, I’m picking up Andy Robertson with my next pick. Best left back in the PL and Robbo is what I would call a proper bloke on and off the pitch. The flying Scotsman is a menace down the left flank

Oh no, I just realized I can’t have Robbo Let me pick again!

Okay, I’m going with Reece James here. I panicked a little, but he’s very, very good

NM: Hahaha. Wild card! Quick on your feet, though….
I’m going off a small sample size here…

Can you guess where I’m going? Midfielder…

Nations League winner…

JPW: No, please no. Not the next name on my list

NM: No. 18 in your programs but No. 1 in your heart…. Bruno Fernandes.

JPW: Man, he was my next pick. Wow. What a player.

NM: My apologies.

JPW: Alright, I’m going with a beauty of a pick from Man City, the man who can hold it all together. Fernandinho.  

NM: I love that. Are you playing him at CB or CM, though?!?

JPW: I can’t reveal my strategy here.

NM: Klopp would never allow it. Alright speaking of Liverpool, let’s stop with the nonsense and plug the handsome, very full beard of Alisson Becker between the sticks.

JPW: Superb pick. Okay, next up I’m going with the pride of Manchester. Marcus Rashford. Boom.

NM: Ouch. He was coming up soon for me, right after Fergus Suter. Turnabout is fair play.

JPW: Finally, I take one of your players. Finally!

NM: I’m going next with a man who is only here this late because you couldn’t take him due to Mane being on your roster. A man who Bob Bradley turned into a star: Mr. Mohamed Salah.

JPW: Ah, yes, I’m surprised Salah has taken this long to be picked. His quality is undoubted. The Egyptian King. 

NM: It was a loophole.

JPW: I’m going with James Maddison from Leicester City to bolster my midfield creativity.

NM: Next pick gives me another Merseyside menace: Richarlison. Wait! Oh it’s too late…

JPW: Oh, wow. Dramaaaa!
NM: I’m shaking my head. This limits me to three at the back, and one is the challenged TAA. Plus, we’ve got a live shot of Sergio Aguero in the green room, baffled. Sorry, Kun.

JPW: I’m going with Everton for my next pick. Lucas Digne! The Frenchman has a wand of a left foot and gives my team some much-needed balance

Surely you will take Sergio next. He is being pictured on his phone

NM: I cannot! I only have two backs. It’s all come apart for Team Mendola. The fan base is revolting as we hand in our card for Antonio Rudiger

JPW: Wowza. Decent pick. But I can hear the jeering from your fans from here…

NM: TAA, Laporte, and Rudiger. We had better score a lot. 

JPW: Okay, well, for my super sub pick I was going to take USMNT hero Christian Pulisic (because Ole Gunnar Solskjaer isn’t available).

But I have an ace up my sleeve seeing as you left Sergio Aguero out. How can you not have him as your super sub when you need a goal? Come on Sergio, lad, complete my squad!

NM: I’m basically the New York Jets.

Okay. I would take Pulisic, too, but I must make amends for my XI and select young Bukayo Saka. Gives me a flair player for either the midfield or left back.

JPW: To finish up, I’m picking St James’ Park as my home ground! 52,000 passionate Newcastle fans behind my squad is just unbeatable. The Geordie faithful will support my team no matter what!

NM: YOU DOG. My No. 1 ground. Hmmmm.

I will take the Theater of Dreams, Old Trafford. Anfield seems too easy a selection here. Special nod to Selhurst Park for the “Glad All Over” walk-out.

JPW: Now this is over, let the fans decide who won this draft! This has got me in the mood to watch every single pick from every single round in the NFL draft and scrutinize it heavily and make sweeping judgments galore. Just the way we all like it!

NM: Cheers Joe. And cheers to the return of these players to the pitch sooner rather than later.

Van Dijk wants to be remembered as a ‘Liverpool legend’

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Virgil van Dijk is setting his sights as high as possible, aiming to first bring the Premier League title back to Liverpool and to then be remembered as a “legend” and “one of [the club’s] greatest servants” when his playing career is finished.

[ MORE: Former US TV execs indicted on charges of World Cup bribery ]

The 28-year-old Dutchman is well on his way to following up last season’s PFA PL Player of the Year award with Liverpool’s first top-division title since 1990 — provided the 2019-20 season is completed after being suspended due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — and he appears to have a keen interest in how he will be remembered in the hearts and minds of the club’s most ardent supporters for years and decades to come.

[ MORE: Report: Premier League prepares for June return ]

Van Dijk wasn’t at all hesitant to throw around the L-word when speaking to Spanish media outlet Sport this week:

How would you like to be remembered?

“As a Liverpool legend. I want to achieve incredible things here. We have a fantastic team, we don’t lack anything, we have all the tools necessary to on winning: a coach that we identify with, a versatile squad, a style of play that breeds victories, a stadium and supporters that play their part. Yes, I would like to be one of those players that return to Anfield after retiring. I see club legends at games and I feel part of a really big family.”

I have read that you love Disney. It’s quite a contrast to your life as a footballer…

“I like Disney films and I love taking my kids to Disneyland. Seeing them so happy makes my day. I was seven or eight when I went there for the first time and it was fantastic but we did not go much as it was so expensive. I took my wife when we first started dating. We got drunk in a hotel… it was memorable. I like simple things so why complicate things? Why be negative when you can enjoy life and be positive? That’s something I have learned with the years. I always try to be positive. Life is too short to always look at the negatives.”

Another few years of performances at his current level, and Van Dijk should have no trouble talking his way back inside Anfield anytime his heart desires for as long as he lives.

Champions League: History looms over Liverpool, PSG comeback bids

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Liverpool is hoping lessons from its history can lead it back from a first-leg deficit in the UEFA Champions League, while Paris Saint-Germain hopes to expel its UCL demons.

Both sides trail heading into home second legs on Wednesday. PSG brings an away goal to the Parc des Princes, while Liverpool was blanked by Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Liverpool star Virgil Van Dijk says the Reds can lean on their history, including the remarkable comeback over Barcelona in last year’s tournament.

The Reds knew they weren’t bringing any away goals home to Anfield for that second leg, and that hill was a much steeper climb. From The Liverpool Echo:

“We couldn’t give any chances away against Barcelona, either,” Van Dijk said. “We will go with the same mindset as always. … We have to get everyone going from the first second to the last. Things can happen and they could be the better team but we all want to show why we want to go through with our qualities and deserve to be in the next round.”

Liverpool will have captain Jordan Henderson back in the fold, a significant lift for a side that has endured relative struggles since the first-leg loss.

As for PSG, it is looking to get over a historical hump. The Ligue 1 outfit has lost in the last three Round of 16s after losing in four-straight quarterfinals between 2013-16.

PSG has health concerns of its own down 2-1 after the first leg loss to Borussia Dortmund in Germany.

The good news is that Kylian Mbappe tested negative for coronavirus. The bad news is that he’s been sick nonetheless.

More bad news? The match will not feature PSG’s home faithful.

“We cannot explain what this difference means, being without our fans is something enormous,” said manager Thomas Tuchel. “We must be capable of adapting. The situation is bizarre. We are sad to play without our fans. The atmosphere at the Parc des Princes can be amazing, it can help, it can put a lot of pressure on our opponent. We must deal with it alone. We are happy to be able to play this match. We are preparing things tactically, technically, we are confident in our capabilities, our qualities and the team to be able to win this match.”

Both matches kickoff at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday.